What is the point of Lip Bubbling?

Okay, so I’m going to start with…. ‘Do you like my selfies of lip bubbling?’… In order to write this post, I decided I needed an image…. so I googled ‘Lip Bubbling’ and then realised that maybe I should just take one of myself…. so there is the result!

Anyway, back to the question…. ‘Why do singers constantly look silly and spit everywhere with these ridiculous lip bubbles when warming up?’ Well… it’s actually one of the best ways to start your vocal warm up. Here’s why…

The Lip Bubble is part of a group of vocal exercises called ‘Semi-Occlusives’. Basically this means that part of the vocal tract is blocked. Examples of this include..

  • the mouth being closed – such as in a lip bubble.
  • the teeth are together – such is in a ‘zzz’ and ‘shh’ exercises
  • the tongue is purposefully in the way – such as in a tongue trill
  • the soft palate is connected with the tongue and consequently blocking the pathway of sound through the mouth – such as in a siren

And I’m sure the list goes on…. But the reason these kind of exercises are so great for warming up is because they support the vocal cords as they come together and resist the flow of air from the lungs.

In order to make sound, your vocal cords must vibrate together. There are some very tiny muscles within your larynx responsible for doing this job. The stronger those muscles are, the better you will sound and the more power you will get on higher notes (but that’s another blog, for another time.)

When you first start singing for the day, these intrinsic muscles of the larynx need to be woken up a bit. So we treat them like the teenage child who needs a good 20 minutes to be woken gently and get out of bed.

You see, when the vocal tract is ‘occluded’ in any of the manners listed above, there is a ‘back pressure’ that results, and actually pushes on the vocal cords from the top, assisting them to close against the air that is being expelled from the lungs underneath. This means that the amount of muscular effort required for the cords to close is significantly less than when then the mouth is fully open. Therefore, the very small intrinsic muscles are given a chance to warm up gradually.

After five minutes or so, they should be warm enough to handle the force of the air alone and you can go right ahead and keep warming up with your mouth open.

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